Tor.com content by

Trisha Low

A Close View of the Post-Apocalypse: David Yoon’s City of Orange

I’ve become weirdly allergic to the post-apocalyptic novel in our year of 2022. Can you blame me? With the climate crisis on our heels and Elon Musk allegedly buying Twitter; The Handmaid’s Tale cosplay at the protest and a conservative resurgence eating away at a gamut of civil rights, our collective sense of doom is basically quotidian. The goal of dystopic fiction has always been to amplify and make strange the problematics of our world, but these days, it’s far more difficult for the acerbic, surreal quality of writing like Ling Ma’s masterpiece Severance to hit. Especially when it seems it’s almost every other day that I’m texting a friend about the news like, ‘you can’t make this shit up.’

Let’s admit it. Perhaps the gap between our fantasies of the end of the world and current reality has simply become too narrow for the practice of reading post-apocalyptic fiction to be… entirely comfortable.

But enter David Yoon’s City of Orange, a book that takes on exactly this End-Times issue of being unable to tell the imagined from the truth. Its tantalizing premise: what if you found yourself stranded in the post-apocalypse with no memory of how things were before? All alone—with the rest of humanity obliterated and no access to any history, cultural or social reference points. Would it be possible to discern what’s real from what’s not as events unfold, absurd, all around you?

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Hunger — Fickle and Radical: Claire Kohda’s Woman, Eating

Lydia is just another twenty-something year old living in London. Fresh out of art school and trying to hazard a trajectory through the world, she finally washes her hands of her mother, who’s in ailing mental health, by committing her to a home in Margate. She nabs an internship at a prestigious gallery, the OTA, rents a studio in a collective artists’ space and wills herself to refine her aesthetic practice. She yearns for community, but more often than not finds herself alone, scrolling food videos on Youtube. So far so familiar. Only there’s a catch. Lydia is a vampire.

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A Catalogue of Touches: Friendship, Loss, and What’s Left Behind in Lee Mandelo’s Summer Sons

I know next to nothing about Lexington, Kentucky upon landing there.

My journey isn’t arduous so much as paranoid and antiseptic with pandemic travel. A red-eye from the Bay Area to a layover in Minneapolis, sandwiched in the giddy moment between being “fully-vaccinated” and the threat of the Delta variant. Less than six feet away, a mom “fixes” the masks of her children by pulling the fabric firmly beneath their noses. I try not to react. After all, ten years into living in the US, there are still places whose contours and interior currents I haven’t encountered, cannot pretend to grasp. The woman’s hair glints a straw yellow. Discomfort washes my face out like sky in the tint of airplane light.

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